Everyone who has ever read a post by me knows I love opinion pieces. And, probably more importantly, I like people who do not take themselves too seriously. Hence it was a given I would eventually get my hands on Gareth Cliff’s book on, well everything.
The book is a light hearted, yet serious, account of South Africa and the world at large according to the “shock jock” Gareth. Gareth has gained fame for his outlandish statements, and has stayed true to form on this book. Though I would like to think he just says what we are all thinking, albeit aloud. Below are a few of my favourite topics that were touched on in the book.
1. Opinions are like buttholes (edited)- everybody has one. Mr. Cliff touches on why people are offended when others have opinions that do not agree with their views, worst still do not have an opinion about anything. I couldn’t agree more. You have to believe in something, right? How does one go through life not having an opinion or a view on things? Ferrari versus Mercedes, Skittles versus Smarties, matte versus gloss lipstick? How do people get into your head and see what you are about if you are going to agree with everything that the next person says? “How interested you are in the world will determine how interested the world is in you.” Need I say more?
“How interested you are in the world will determine how interested the world is in you.”
2.Dear Government I, II & III- a series of letters addressed to the government on some issues that were pertinent in 2011 (the year the book was written). We complain about the government and lack of service all the time right? However, how many people actually put pen to paper (literally) and write to the government to express their views and better still suggest solutions. The reason I quite liked this was the proactive approach. Without going into too much detail Gareth talks about why BEE is not working, why we should stop renaming roads, and the state of education. This open letter generated a lot of traffic towards the author, both good and nasty, but all this propelled a discussion on the issues around the country, culminating in an invitation from the Office of the President to meet and discuss the issues that were addressed in the letter. In a time where we have become “keyboard warriors”, complaining about anything and everything on social media, here is a good example of going the extra mile and actually doing something about it.
3. Old Money, New Money- this is a topic I have recently taken interest in. In this 21st century we are living in there has been no greater focus than what we spend our money, and if we are lucky enough, wealth on. I was quite taken aback on Gareth’s opinion on this, probably because it was one of the things I disagree with. So he talks of the usual story of how “new money” spend their earnings on fancy cars, clothes, jewellery and things that ostentatiously show off their wealth, i.e. bling. The generation of today is not interested in settling down, getting married, buying a house or having 2.5 kids. They refuse to be tied down, go where there is opportunity, and as such are more than willing to uproot our lives and move to Timbuktu if that is where the opportunity is. Buying a house or saving up for retirement is not something that will be top of their list. I really do not see the problem with it. I do not subscribe to that life but in a world that is forever changing, what is the point of weighing yourself down when you could just buy a fancy car and Michael Kors purse that you can take with you half way across the world? Just saying. 🙂
4. The meaning of life– I will sum this up with an excerpt from the chapter, taken from Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life”
Why are we here? What’s life all about?
Is God really real, or is there some doubt?
What’s the point of all this hoax?
Is it the chicken and the egg time? Are we just yolks?
Or, perhaps, we’re just one of God’s little jokes.
Well, ca c’est le “Meaning of life”.
Is life just a game where we make the rules
While we’re searching for something to say,
Or are we just simply spiraling coils
Of self replicating DNA.
In this “life”, what is our fate?
Is there Heaven and Hell? Do we reincarnate?
“If you do nothing else, live.”
Apart from the appeal to live life to the fullest, I loved this chapter as it introduced me to the greatness that is Monty Python.
5. Lead, follow, or get out of the way- “If you’re not going to lead, then follow, and if you’re not going to follow you better realise that you’re in the way.” Short, sweet and to the point. I touched on this earlier but it is worth saying again. Look at how university students have taken into their own hands a matter that has plagued varsity education for as long as it has been around. Exorbitant fees making education not accessible to all. Though some of their methods have been questionable, now we have dialogue taking place on how we proceed in improving the situation thanks to these brave students. On the flip side, if you are not going to lead by this example then follow and support the cause, whatever the cause may be. And if it is not for you, then get out of the way and let those who do proceed.
In summary this book is quite a mature and thought provoking and mature (well, most of the time) account from someone who wouldn’t necessarily be your go to guy for worldly advice.
Siphathi is an extroverted introvert. When she is not injecting a little humour into the world she is an engineer trying to pay her bills. Lover of sport, soccer and formula 1 to be exact. But most of all she is an avid reader who loves getting lost in books with a glass of wine by the side.
A good review by Siphathi. It is very relatable in today’s context even though it was published in 2011. Keep sharing your opinions Siphathi. They allow for fierce conversations on issues that one can not ignore or get out of the way for. -Lee